As the City of Chandler positions itself to become a major player in attracting technology and bio-science companies, a state-of-the-art, 152-acre business park rises from the site of the old Motorola plant amid pastures where cows still graze.
Continuum, located along the fast-growing Price Corridor, boasts of its high capacity infrastructure, advanced voice and data communications, landscaped open spaces, and access to a world-class workforce.
“Continuum is a key, strategic piece in our recruitment of high tech companies,” says Christine Mackay, Economic Development Director for the City of Chandler. “We want companies to come to a place where they feel connected. Where they feel a sense of place. With its amenities, such as the water features and points of contemplation, that’s what Continuum offers.”
Developing the $750M project is Capital Commercial Investments of Austin, Texas. As Continuum stands now, much of the infrastructure is in place. Buildings on the site include an existing 512,000 SF office and research and development Motorola facility and 1 MSF modular data center designed by PHArchitecture and built by J.E. Dunn for CyrusOne.
When completed, the data center will house 250 CyrusOne employees and executives. It is expected to become the largest of its kind in the U.S. with a capacity of 110 megawatts delivered from a substation to be built on the property.
“Continuum has been a long time in the making and to see it take shape has been extremely rewarding,” says Kevin Miller, Senior Vice President Southwest Region for Capital Commercial. “The project has been well received within the community and we continue to receive compliments.”
Capital Commercial got the project off the ground in 2009 with help from Chandler on zoning issues and $10M to help with infrastructure. The CBRE team of David Carder and Luke Walker has been retained to exclusively market the existing office and R&D facility for lease or sale, and the land for development.
Since Capital Commercial and its partners tend to be cash buyers, their properties are mainly debt free.
“In this particular case, the City of Chandler has been a great partner in the rezoning and overhaul of the infrastructure,” Miller adds.
In order for a project the magnitude of Continuum to succeed, collaboration is crucial. Mainly, Miller says, it’s the collaboration of multiple entities over several years to design a premier park that will generate potentially thousands of jobs and a massive economic impact to the City of Chandler and surrounding areas.
“Trying to take a vision perceived by everyone differently and putting it onto paper is one of the most difficult tasks to overcome,” Miller says. “It takes a team that knows what the goal is at the end to work through all the challenges to finalize something that in turn will be great for each.”
The City of Chandler was instrumental with the design for the infrastructure, with PHArchitecture taking it to the next level with its architectural flare. Capital Commercial then worked with what vision it would like to see the park developed into and collaborated with the City of Chandler and the architect to have an approved preliminary design package for potential buildings.
“Capital Commercial is making quite an investment,” Mackay says. “When you’re under a microscope with a project of this magnitude, everything has to be on the table. This is a project that could shape future business in the City of Chandler.”
By loose definition, Continuum means: completely separate items that are not alike but that are exactly equal and Identical when they touch each other. From that definition springs the project’s motto: “Where environment meets technology.”
Within the first hour of their initial meeting, Capital Commercial and PHArchitecture were on the same page regarding the vision of the site being a world class nano-technology business park, Hayes, President/CEO of PHArchitecture, recalls. Within the first couple of weeks the specifics of the concept were established and advanced, he says. It took several meetings with the City of Chandler to bring them on board that Continuum was not going to be a ordinary business park.
“We created a computer graphic digital animation ‘Fly-By’ of the park so they (and others involved) could fully comprehend the concept,” Hayes says. “Once they saw the conceptual imagery through the 3-D animation, the city was fully engaged in working with the design and development team to achieve the final environment that is finalizing today. It took nearly 18 months of meetings and exchange of ideas and information to finalize the Plan Area Development (PAD), which is essentially rewriting zoning and development guidelines specifically for Continuum. This ensures that all future development within the park will meet the highest standards conceived and established for the park to ensure optimum success,”
The overall concept of Continuum is for it to be a place where companies don’t necessarily need to be, but be afraid not to be there, Hayes says. The remodel of the existing Motorola building and the CyrusOne project, as the first two projects, are the initial phases that embrace the very original design concept and set the bar for all future developments.
“This is going to be a fun ride,” Hayes says.
(subhed) Continuum’s Coolness
Brian Silvester, Senior Project Manager at PHArchitecture on the Continuum project, breaks down some of its “cool features.”
>> For a really cool video, go to pharchitecture.com/continuum-park.
>> The site includes meandering roadways around the existing centrally located Motorola parcel. Included is a naturally meandering lake system with multiple “point-of-contemplation” pedestrian seating areas.
>> The Continuum design concept resulted in the use of natural and man-made materials such as natural stone veneer adjacent to cast-in-place concrete.
>> Due to the success of the video animation, a PDP (Preliminary Development Plan) book was produced which would serve as a design tool for all future developments.
>> A steel globe feature within the round-about (a lakes component) perpetuates the Continuum identity. The globe was commissioned by Tucson artist Rebecca Thompson. The cradle base is a hybrid of a man-made element with laser cut lettering juxtaposed with a painted rust finish.
>> “Natural water” features are the heart and soul of Continuum. Water is used as an essential resource, civilizing the park environment with added richness and quality of space. Pedestrian routes and accessible “green space” are distributed, providing a balanced ecology.
>> The lush, densely landscaped open space interacts cohesively with the water features, intensifying the connective relationships between a structured environment and the landscaped environment.